July 12: Chinatown, Times Square, and other places

The fun and games kicked off on Thursday when we boarded a bus with 50+ other people and our tour guide, Michael.

Michael was a chubby, light-complected Chinese man who stood at probably around 5-foot-7. He had a thick accent, so it took extra effort to decipher some of the things he said.

Most of the tourists in the group were Chinese, and it really goes to show it’s an important language to learn.

The day in a nutshell

8:34 a.m. Michael gave us a couple of minutes to find breakfast in Chinatown. He unnecessarily pointed out that even though we were in Chinatown, Chinese people don’t only eat Chinese food: they also eat American food and others. We had about 20 minutes to find something to eat, which really wasn’t much time since a lot of places had lines. So we ended up at a Starbucks.
8:58 a.m. Got back on the bus
9:30 a.m. Wall Street 
9:45 a.m. The Trump Building 

This is really my bad, but I got so into the rest of the tour that I didn’t take note of subsequent times throughout the day :/

But after the Trump Building we went on got on a boat at Pier 17 and went on a ride where we saw the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Ground Zero, and the Statue of Liberty from a distance.

A man named Jonathan was our tour guide for the duration of the boat ride, and he was excellent (much better than Michael, and he was easier to understand).

For one thing, he informed us that the Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883, and that New York has eight of the tallest buildings in the world (still gotta check if this is a fact, though).

Michael, on the other hand, told us some things like, “We’re leaving and we’re now on the freeway.”

Manhattan Skyscrapers

Times Square

(Behind the statue are the red steps that were featured in the Glee episode when McKinley High School went to compete for nationals.)

I wasn’t too impressed with Times Square. It looks a lot better in photos and on the big screen, but maybe the fact we saw it in broad daylight made a difference. I bet it looks so much cooler at night time.

United Nations Headquarters

Empire State Building

It’s kind of hard to imagine that we actually made it to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. We took an elevator up to the 80th floor and it zoomed up so quickly. The only reason I realized how high up we were going was because of the altitude change that became obvious by the time we hit the 30th floor. My ears got plugged and I had to yawn to fix that.

After getting to the 80th floor we made our way up to floor No. 86, and got an incredible view of New York. It was much cooler at the top and I took as much time as I could to appreciate how much smaller the dense city looked from so high off the ground.

Random photo

Since there weren’t any seats available for people waiting for taxis and buses, these people leaned on these huge pots of leaves.

The Empire State Building was the last destination of the day. We headed back to New Jersey but the bus broke down sometime after 6 p.m. on the ramp to the I-495. Fortunately it wasn’t anything too bad, and we finished up with dinner at around 7:30 p.m.

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